May the Force be with you
Posted on : 27 January 2017
WORDS: Vicki Hastrich
Article first appeared RAS Times November 2016
Part Three in a Royal Agricultural Society (RAS) Heritage series by Vicki Hastrich
While operational policing has always been an important part of the compact, NSW Police have traditionally joined in the fun of the Show, taking part in activities which go above and beyond normal duties. Over 120 years an interconnected relationship has developed between the force and the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS), to the mutual benefit of both organisations.
At any mass public gathering police are needed, but at the Show some law enforcement tasks are unique. In the old days at Moore Park, police were vital to coordinate access and parking and had their own scale model of the Showground to help with planning. Escorting ‘cash wagons’, overseeing closing hours of sideshows and bars, assisting with the marshalling of Grand Parades and reuniting lost children with parents were some of their jobs. Getting patrons to leave the Members’ Bar was apparently tricky. Technically the bar was not a public place within the meaning of the Liquor Act, so although police routinely ordered everyone out, they weren’t necessarily obeyed!
As well as performing, Mounted Police have always had a very practical role, carrying out daily patrols and helping with crowd control, but also acting as bodyguards. Each year at the Show’s opening ceremony the Mounties escort the horse-drawn vehicle carrying the Vice-Regal. While it all looks ceremonial, the Troopers are very much operating as the close-quarters security detail – a very big responsibility, especially when the dignitaries are members of the Royal Family.
A police station has always been provided at the Showground for officers to work from, and at Moore Park facilities even included a cell. Extra capacity has never been far away, however, with local stations at Darlinghurst and now at Flemington working closely in support.
As protectors and participants, NSW Police continue to make a big contribution to the Show, working closely with the RAS to keep the tradition of friendly fun going.